Jim Siergey: This Old House

April 24th, 2018

Records differ on when this house was built. Some say 1902. Others say 1898. Either way, this joint is old.

That ain’t all that’s old. Me and the missus have lived here for forty years. Without knowing anything about it, I daresay we may have lived in this house longer than anyone else. Maybe. Could be.

Our two kids have lived here at least half that time. Others have lived here, while in between residences, for months at a time but my wife and I have been here the whole half a fourscore.

We’ve seen the neighborhood change from a blue-collar one with kids running around outside, playing, riding bikes, climbing trees to one in which mostly lawyers can afford to reside and the only signs of life outside are the au pairs pushing strollers down the sidewalk.

In the meantime, in between time, my wife and I have become archaic anachronisms. I, and I must commendably add, my next door neighbor are the only ones on the block who don’t use a lawn service to mow our postage stamp-sized lawns.

Whatever must the other neighbors think?

georgeharrisonallthings

Mr. Harrison summed it all up…

 

And I still use an old-fashioned push mower. All I lack are Bermuda Shorts and a transistor radio.

Ah, but there is no mowing in the back 40.

We turned our back yard into what I have dubbed a “yarden”. The grass is gone, replaced by a winding flagstone path. On either side of it are lilies, hydrangeas, hostas, black-eyed susans, Roses of Sharon (or is it Rose of Sharons?) and other flowering plants accented with a towering blue spruce, a huge hemlock bush (no tea for me, please) and an airy white pine.

Except for the trees and shrubbery, my wife and I did all this by ourselves. It was a chore, to say the least, especially since we had little idea of what we were doing or how to go about doing it. But we done it and, over the years, that area has become a place of serenity.

A Yarden©.

A friend built us a little roofed shelter that sits alongside the fence between the spruce and the hemlock from where we can sit on a bench swing and read or just bliss out. Rain or shine.

Yep, the place is pretty homey. We like it. But, as I said, the structure is over a hundred years old and it and us are beginning to feel our age.

Along with the ominous warnings of impending repairs, we are also getting taxed, especially with property taxes, out of town.

So, out of town we are going.

Besides never thinking we’d ever leave the city, I also thought the only way we’d leave this house was feet first. Of course, part of that desire was the bonus of leaving all that is inside for our children to have to sort through.

Such is the stuff that dreams are made of.

Therefore, this here premature evacuation has forced US to go through the forty years worth of accumulation. Despite all we have gotten rid of through donations, sales and recycling, there still remains so much…stuff.

The task seems Sisyphean.

There will, there has to be, an end to it and we will soon be on our way. There are a lot of memories etched in this old Victorian homestead but, as George Harrison sang, “All Things Must Pass”.

New memories will be made in a new house, a new neighborhood, a new state “eve-un” (Snagglepuss pronunciation) as we embark upon a new stage in our existence.

Hello, we must be going.

 

Editor’s note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Cuckoo Over Roku

 

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Randolph Street: Woo!

April 11th, 2018

1Cher

Sonny & CherLip Sych Contest

 

2Bench

Bench

 

3WooWoo

Ronnie WooWoo–Wrigley Field

 

4Stareyes

Star Eyes–Lip Sych Contest

 

5Driver

Driver–Ashland Avenue

 

All photos © Jon Randolph

jonrandolph.com

 

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Jim Siergey: Cuckoo Over Roku

April 11th, 2018

It was late and the bottle of wine was nearly empty. I should have gone to bed but I didn’t. The Roku device, sultry and silkily, beckoned to me.

“Turn me on, big man.” it purred.

She, I mean, it, lasciviously continued, “You know I’ve got what you want. You just have to look for it.”

I picked up the slender Roku remote control device. It was warm to the touch and fit snugly in my hand.

“Together”, Roku whispered, “together we can find pleasure. Just keep pressing that button.”

I did.

She softly chastised me. “Don’t be in such a hurry, big boy. Take it slow.”

Silently, I obeyed.

Usually I can go for hours but I was feeling rather sluggish, as it was late, so I cut my surfing short—much to the dismay of Roku.

gammapeople

Great flick!

 

“Already?” she sighed.

The same old story.

I settled upon a 1955 film entitled “The Gamma People”. I knew nothing about it but it seemed to be the right fit for a late night prowl. It was only a bit over an hour long.

It sounded like it might be a typical ‘50s terror from outer space flick but it came off as more light-hearted and even comedic.

The set up was this—the train car carrying two reporters on their way to Salzburg becomes uncoupled and eventually rolls to a stop in some little unheard-of country where all the inhabitants seem a bit paranoid. Adding to that paranoia was that a train had not stopped or even gone by for years.

Paul Douglas was the only name actor in the thing. He was a thick, burly thespian who, despite his un-Hollywood-like appearance, starred in a lot of movies in the 1950s. In this low-budget one he played the “Ugly American”. In fact, I found his brutish brashness very irritating.

(It’s only a movie, Jim, it’s only a movie.)

His companion was your typical Hollywood movie Brit, a playboy type complete with blonde mustache and ascot who, despite his wolfish ways, was also rather fey.

There were a lot of children dressed as Hitler Youth and some whose faces resembled Frankensteinian zombies. They must have been The Gamma People.

I can’t say for sure because my eyes didn’t always stay open. In fact, before the movie came to any kind of climax, I turned it off and shuffled off to bed.

As I headed up the stairs, I heard what sounded like the soft flutter of eyelashes and then Roku cooed, “See you tomorrow night?”

The same old story.

 

Editor’s Note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was The Old Maelstrom

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Letter From Milo: Fear Of The Flu

April 10th, 2018

This was going to be a great weekend, a spectacular weekend, a weekend so filled with excess and debauchery that, if everything went according to plan, I’d be lucky to escape with my life.

You see, the lovely Mrs. Milo was going away for the weekend with a bunch of her slutty girlfriends. They were going to a cottage in Michigan where, they assured me, they planned to watch the leaves change colors, exchange recipes and knitting tips, and perhaps share a bottle or two of Chardonnay.

I would be alone for three glorious days, free to indulge in low-life pleasures on an epic scale. I was going to swim in rivers of Tennessee whiskey and float on clouds of fine California reefer. I was going to frolic at Madame LaFarge’s Whorehouse and spend quality time with my dear friend, Nickel Bag Bernie. I intended to pass my afternoons at Swillagain’s Saloon and my evenings in brutal all-night poker games, where all the players were sure to be drunk, heavily armed and have aces up their sleeves.

Unfortunately, things didn’t go according to plan. Shortly before my wife left for Michigan, I caught the damned flu.

I felt the first symptom on the morning my wife was leaving, waking up with a slight tickle in my throat. I didn’t think much of it. I often wake up with aches, pains, cuts, scratches and bruises of unknown origins. By late afternoon my nose was running and I was firing off sneezes four or five at a time. I felt like shit and sensed that things would only get worse.

The lovely Mrs. Milo exhibited the requisite spousal concern for my well-being.

The Lovely Mrs. Milo and a few of her drinking friends….

“Darn, I hate to leave just when you’re getting sick, but we’ve been planning this trip for weeks,” she said, as she snapped her suitcase shut and edged toward the door.

“Don’t worry about a thing, dumpling. This is a mere bump in the road. It’s probably just one of those 24-hour nuisance colds.”

“I hope that’s all it is. Try not to drink too much. I doubt alcohol will help your condition.”

“Your advice is duly noted.”

When I awoke the next morning the flu had settled in my chest. I was feverish and coughing as harshly and steadily as a chain-smoking West Virginia coal miner. By early afternoon I was at death’s creaky door, and the door was slowly swinging open.

I called my physician at the VA hospital, Dr, Frankie “Disco” Lopez and explained my plight. He told me to come down to the hospital. “Make it quick,” he said. “I’ve got a horse running in the eighth race at Arlington and don’t want to miss it.”

Somehow I managed to drag my ailing ass down to the hospital in good time and was quickly admitted into the doctor’s office. When Dr. Lopez saw me, he shook his head and said, “Dude, you look like shit.”

“Is that your professional opinion?”

“I’m pretty sure that would be Stevie Wonder’s opinion, too.”

Milo felt so bad, he almost gave up drinking….

After a cursory examination, Dr. Lopez said, “You’ve got a real good dose of the flu. There’s a nasty strain of it going around now. I’ve seen a lot of cases in the last few weeks.”

“What’s the prognosis?”

“It depends on your lifestyle and, most importantly, your age. I had a patient last week who had a case similar to yours. He was a heavy drinker and smoker, and had a real bad cough like the one you’ve got.”

“Were you able to help him?”

“I gave him some pills, told him to drink lot of fluids and get plenty of bed rest.”

“What happened to the guy?”

“The fucker died.”

“Jesus! He must have been an old man.”

“No, I believe he was about your age.”

“Ah, shit.”

I’ve had a fear of the flu ever since I read “The Stand,” by Stephen King. The disease has been responsible for tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of fatalities over the years. Not only is it deadly, it’s treacherous, too. The virus mutates at an alarming rate. Every year science has to come up with a new vaccine to battle the latest variation of the fiendish and opportunistic affliction. Unfortunately, the vaccines don’t always work. I know people that have had flu shots and still caught the flu.

But I wasn’t worried. I was in good hands. Dr. Frankie “Disco” Lopez is a master of the medical arts. When I left the hospital I figured I was well on the way to recovery.

The good doctor had sized up the situation and come up with a solution. On my way out of his office he handed me a vial of pills and said “These will make you feel real good.”

He also recommended I drink lots of fluids and get plenty of bed rest.

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Randolph Street: Two Faces

April 6th, 2018

1IMG_2157

Two Faces

 

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Bridge

 

Bronzeville

Church Ladies

 

West Loop

Harp Man

 

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Blue Woman

 

6IMG_4733

Tree

 

All photos © Jon Randolph

jonrandolph.com

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Randolph Street: Ghostly

April 5th, 2018

1IMG_4733Roadside–Southern Illinois

 

2DSCF1364Garage–Chicago

 

4IMG_4692Holiday Inn–Missouri

 

All photos © Jon Randolph

jonrandolph.com

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Jim Siergey: The Old Maelstrom

April 1st, 2018

Pulled writhing and backwards from the warm environs of mellow nourishment soon to be made cordless and become an extension of ancestral chaos, I arrived.

I remember no more. Nothing but what is told to me. Bliss, facade and innocence.

Pictures in the cracks of the sidewalk. Planet-hopping. Shadows like giants. Running. Stopping. Laughing. Running again. Hats with ear flaps. Mittens attached to sleeves. Breath like smoke. Toothless smiles. Corduroy pants with the bottoms turned up displaying red and black checked flannel lining.

Empty lots. Prairies. Skeletal houses, rooms without walls, dark basements of mud, water, cigarette butts and possible danger.

Then, double digits with leather and wood and out in the field. Teaching, learning and obsession. Facts, figures, statistics, multiplication and division. It all averages out. But, no matter what, can never deliver to please.

 

eddie-kendricks-keep-on-truckin

Mr. Kendricks said it best…

 

Betrayal, abandonment and awakening. Free to be, live for today, take a look around, take a look inward, over, under, sideways and down. Not all is as it seems to be and never will again. Meanwhile, the One, the Thing, the It. Arrival and revival. All is change and change is all.

The Big R comes, hard and fast. Roll with the punches, play the hand that’s dealt, minimize, compromise, socialize, surprise, surprise. Walk through open door, explore and find there’s more. New beginnings. Grays and blacks make way for reds and yellows and greens and blues. It’s all see-thru and top o’ the world, ma!

Try not to miss the water when the well runs dry but even if one knows one never knows, do one? Meanwhile, again, the culture lags.

Newsprint, finger prints and pocket lint. All goes on til it goes no more. Start up again.

Up and down, in and out, left and right, sit down, stand up, fight, fight, fight. Like a river, like an arrow, like a demon from the deep, there is no stopping it. There is no end. It trudges, it gallops, it flickers and flies. It is always there but rarely where it’s wanted.

Select, accept and reflect.

Inside or outside, there is no dearth of rebirth. Keep on chooglin’. Keep on truckin’. Keep on keepin’ on.

Okay, I will.

I must.

I am.

 

Editor’s Note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Time Burglar

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